WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, in theaters now.
Another Marvel Studios film means another round of ultimate sacrifices from heroes and secondary characters fans have come to know and love — along with, in this case, an entire realm. For all of its humor, director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok’s comes with a staggering body count.
That’s not much of a surprise, considering the film’s primary antagonist is Hela, the goddess of death (Cate Blanchett), but some of the losses mark significant changes for both integral characters and the =Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. All those sacrifices weren’t in vain, however; a few managed to flesh out the secret history of Asgard. You know … before it exploded.
If you started losing count when all the lasers, swords and green fists began to fly, here’s a rundown of all the major deaths in Thor: Ragnarok. Don’t feel ashamed if you couldn’t keep up; Some things died twice!
Perhaps one of the least-surprising “fatalities” in Thor: Ragnarok is the shattering of Mjolnir by Hela, a moment telegraphed in trailers months before the film’s release (in two different settings, even). However, that doesn’t change the impact of the sequence, as it might be one of the most important losses in the sequel.
Forged from the heart of a dying star, the enchanted hammer has been been the signature weapon of Chris Hemsworth’s thunder god since his introduction in 2011’s Thor. As Anthony Hopkins’ Odin says, the hammer was meant to hone Thor’s lightning powers, but it was never the source. Much of Thor: Ragnarok revolves around Thor coming to terms with that and, consequently, accepting his own thunderous powers while a prisoner on Sakaar.
Odin’s death might be the saddest one. The Asgardian is first kingnapped by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and then shuffled off to a nursing home on Earth, deprived of his powers and rendered senile. When he snaps out of it, Odin warns his sons of a looming threat: Hela, whose imprisonment was only a guarantee while the protector of the Nine Realms was alive. Odin then dies.
Later developments reveal that Odin wasn’t always the benevolent protector of the Nine Realms, but rather their conqueror. He rode into battle beside Hela, his firstborn, and cut a swath through anyone daring enough to stand in their way. Hela rose up against Odin, and he imprisoned her. In this way, Odin’s death marks the true end of Asgard, which was built upon a foundation of violent subjugation and millennia of palace intrigue designed to cover up that uncomfortable secret.
Warriors Three fans are probably still ripping out their hair. The trio of mighty Asgardian warriors never really received their shining moment in the Thor franchise, but who could’ve guessed it would be so easy to dispatch Thor’s closest allies? Sadly, they’re little more than cannon fodder for Hela as she conquers Asgard.
The Warriors Three have their first encounter with Hela at the Bifrost. The goddess of death knocks Thor and Loki out of the interstellar portal, arriving in Asgard by herself. Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Fandral (Zachary Levi) are there to greet her, along with Skurge (who’s been removed from his Bifrost duties). Hela makes quick work of all but Skurge (Karl Urban), whom she recruits to her side. She then sets off for Asgard proper, only to be met by Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) and a sea of elite guards. This is the first time audiences receive a clear look at how dangerous Hela can be, as she rips apart the army and impales Hogun with her Necroswords.
During a fight with Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Loki casts a spell to force her to relive a past trauma. It doesn’t help him, of course, as Valkyrie quickly pulls out of the trance and teaches Loki a lesson. However, the brief sequence offers insight into the fate of one of Asgard’s most lauded fighting force.
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The Valkyries were once the elite all-women guardians of the Asgardian throne, defending the royal family when danger came knocking. Unfortunately, they also had to deal with the royal family when they became that danger. Such was the case with Hela, whose ambitions didn’t end once Odin concluded his conquests. When Hela revolted against her father, the Valkyries were sent to deal with the threat, a confrontation that didn’t end well for the warriors. It’s implied Valkyrie is the last of her kind.
All things considered, Surtur seemed like a pretty chill guy — at least for someone perpetually on fire. Thor’s fight with the fire giant opens the film, at which point we learn the ruler of Muspelheim is the catalyst for Ragnarok, the fabled destruction of Asgard. Only by fulfilling that prophecy can Surtur ever truly die. Thor wants to prevent Ragnarok at all costs, so he slays Surtur, nabbing his fiery crown and stashing it in Odin’s vault. Done deal, right?
It’s not until much later that Thor and his allies put the pieces together: If Hela draws her power from Asgard, then it might be a good idea to let Surtur do his job. Loki makes the mad dash to the vault and throws Surtur’s crown into the Eternal Flame, spawning a massive version of the fiery beast. With his purpose fulfilled, Asgard becomes like so many other radioactive rocks floating in the great expanse of space, and Surtur finally dies.
Skurge’s story in Thor: Ragnarok is quite the dirge. Urban’s Asgardian everyman warrior is played comedically in the beginning, but his story quickly turns dark. It’s not long before a petrified Skurge is recruited to Hela’s army and, in short order, becomes her executioner. He even leads the march against Idris Elba’s Heimdall when the Watcher of Worlds attempts to lead the surviving Asgardians to safety across the Rainbow Bridge. Surely, Skurge isn’t interested in redemption.
Or is he? It’s clear from Urban’s performance that Skurge isn’t wholly on board with Hela’s massacre of his fellow Asgardians, but what else can he do? Redeem himself, that’s what. Skurge whips out a pair of assault rifles — Des and Troy — the moment Asgard needs him most. He’s able to fight off Hela’s undead army and save countless lives at the end of the film, but he meets his death when he jumps from the ship and is immediately impaled by Hela.
Few creatures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are as feared and ferocious as Fenris, Hela’s savage wolf-mount. The creature was the goddess of death’s companion during the early days of Asgardian colonial expansion, and no doubt helped her and Odin to shed an unreasonable amount of blood. Thor: Ragnarok proves the creature has still got it, even after being dead for millennia. Fenris is revived by the Eternal Flame and immediately gets to wrecking house.
Hulk takes on the massive wolf in the seas of Asgard during the film’s climax. At first, it seems as though Fenris has the upper hand; he’s able to bite through Hulk’s nigh-impervious skin, but as we all know, pain only makes for an angrier Hulk. Mark Ruffalo’s Green Goliath delivers a blow so powerful that he actually knocks the wolf off the face of the world. Yeah, he’s probably not coming back from that.
Make no mistake: The destruction of Asgard marks a major change for the Marvel Cinematic Universe power balance. The flat, utopian world is leveled by Surtur as part of an ancient prophecy that Thor, Loki, Valkyrie and Hulk allow to be fulfilled so they can end the reign of Hela before she is able to extend her destruction to the rest of the Nine Realms. Asgard has stood as a protector of those realms for millennia, and with it gone, they’re now left vulnerable.
At one point, the comics saw Asgardian refugees flee to Earth to form a New Asgard, but the mid-credits scene has some wondering if they’ll even get that far.
Thor has a penchant for losing an eye in the comics, so the fact that he loses his right one in Thor: Ragnarok seems long overdue. The moment comes toward the end of the film, when Thor and Hela are going toe to toe. Hela slashes Thor’s right eye with a Necrosword, forcing him to later don an eye patch much like Odin’s.
Does this herald the coming of Rune King Thor or the aged King Thor? Probably not, but it’s a great way to cap off the character’s journey over the course of five films. The god of thunder has, after all, gone from an entitled brat in Thor to the King of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok. It seems only fitting that he would lose an eye, making him all the more his father’s son.
We’re not here to debate biology. The question “can the embodiment of death die?” is one meant for philosophy classes and late-night dorm debates. All we can say is that Hela had a giant fiery sword plopped right down on top of her at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. And then Asgard blew up, with her on it. The goddess of death is very strong (she proves as much throughout the movie), but there’s a different between strength and surviving, like, 5,000 neutron bombs going off in your face.
As with any villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a good idea to never believe reports of one’s demise without first seeing a body, but it seems as though Hela is as good as dead.
In theaters now, director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Karl Urban as Skurge.